Welcome to this Joint Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committees of the Caribbean Community on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and on External Trade Negotiations.
It is the first of its kind and is the brainchild of the two Chairpersons, who, recognising the synergistic interlinkage which must exist between the work of their two Sub-Committees, have decided to hold this Meeting with the determination to coordinate their efforts in support of the Community’s development.
It is a visionary initiative on their part, one most worthy of endorsement and support by all sectors and stakeholders of the Community.
Honourable Prime Minister, Distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen. From the earliest stages of our plantation economy, the history of Caribbean Development has been closely inter-twined with the nature and content of its trade. That symbiotic link remains to this day. As small countries, it is a particularly strong one. Our deliberations here today will therefore not surprisingly benefit from the Ministerial deliberations on Strategic Trade Issues which took place here in Montego Bay last Friday and Saturday.
Those deliberations, looking as they did at the Region’s trade negotiations with our traditional as well as new trading partners, highlighted the critical place which trade policy – negotiations and implementation – must occupy in our national and regional policy-making nerve centres. The Draft Report of those deliberations has just been made available to you and will be the subject of a presentation by the Chairman of the Ministerial Meeting, the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Belize.
Your deliberations here today will serve to locate and cement the achievement of that objective at the regional level. And in speaking of trade, one is speaking not only of trade in goods but in services as well; just as in speaking of national and regional decision-makers, one is speaking not only of governments but also the private sector and other stakeholders as well. These perspectives were not lost on Ministers in their deliberations over the weekend.
The design and construction of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, intricately inter-twined as it is with trade policy, is itself not surprisingly a work not only of governments but of the private sector and other stakeholders as well. The commonality of the builders of both trade policy and the CSME is equally matched by the commonality of the intended beneficiaries – the people of the Caribbean Community. With their support based on full and timely information and with the help of our friends – our venture the CSME with a viable trade policy and visionary leadership will and must succeed.
And in speaking of our friends, I am pleased to mention that on the 8th of January on behalf of the Caribbean ACP States, I signed a financing agreement on Caribbean Integration Support Programme with the European Commissioner for Development, Mr. Louis Michel for 40.5m Euros, some 50 odd Million United States Dollars.
Finally, that this path-breaking Meeting is taking place in Montego Bay, Jamaica is no mere coincidence.
This City has been the cradle of so much that has given rise to Caribbean Development. It is cognisant of that reality and in the hope, indeed the expectation of more Madam Chair that I invite you to lead us in the deliberations by sharing with us your perspective following the remarks of the Honourable Prime Minister of Barbados to this already historic Meeting.
Thank you.

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